Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Accidental Sereph

The Accidental Sereph (Carran Hollow Fated Mates, #1)The Accidental Sereph by Maci Aurora
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love a quick PNR read that checks all the boxes? I could gobble up a handful of these and still be ready to read more.

This, assuming it’s the first of the “Curran Hollow Fated Mates” series, introduces us to the brothers Black, a group of Serephs who protect a very specific territory from demons. Because they have the power to hide what they do, they basically just look like bad boy bikers who start fights for no reason. It would probably lead to a very solitary existence except for the promise of finding your fated mate, subsequently getting wings, and oodles of sex. Atlas is the star of this particular installment and heads out to see if any demons are swinging by the local pub when all hell breaks loose.

Ivy is on the bus to try to rescue her kidnapped sister when she runs into Atlas and is immediately bowled over by his magnetism. Demons spoil their awkward introduction and Ivy is force to learn things in the moment, which she does miraculously well. It was neat to see the dynamic, learn the lore, and meet all the characters in rapid succession. The book has great pacing and even though we jump into bed quickly, it somehow didn’t seem weird (or weirder than this world expects). There is a nice HEA with enough loose ends to tie up for future books as everyone finds/re-finds their mates.

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The False Pawn

The False Pawn (A Song of the Ancient Flame #1)The False Pawn by A.E. Asavi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book pulled me in a few different direction and was very much a world building first installment. There is a ton of lore, character introduction, and surprising turns jammed into this book.

Anthea lives with her two sisters, acting as a pseudo mother to them after their parents died and going to work for a paycheck but not much fulfillment. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t her going to a club and then falling through a portal in to an elf-run world. Once there, she is imprisoned, forced to be a slave (or act as one, it’s confusing and edges close to Stockholm syndrome), kidnapped, tortured, betrayed, and then sort-of/kind-of revered? This book takes you through all the feels.

The overall story revolves around a prophecy and lots of court intrigue. Turns out humans exist in this world but they are a slave race, doing the bidding of the elves (who also have magic). It is quickly discovered that Anthea is immune to magic, so they quickly put her to work. Is there romance? Yes? I guess? Again, she is everyone’s prisoner so how much is her own bidding and how much is questionable consent? It toes a line there, but if you can put that aside, there are more than enough very attractive elves who could easily be in the running for Anthea’s partner.

None of this truly pans out as this is just book 1 and we need to set up a lot of things all at once. I’m not the best high fantasy reader, so admit that a lot of the very similar names ended up blurring together a times, but the author did convince me I should be rooting for our unlikely hero, Anthea. It will be interesting to see what other trouble she gets into in future books.

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Friday, June 21, 2024

Fused in Earth and Stone

Fused in Earth and Stone (Kennedy Rain, #3)Fused in Earth and Stone by Sandy Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books where you spend the whole time worrying about all the things Kennedy has not done. In that worry, you somehow do not predict the even worse things that happen during what she *is* doing. Not sure if any of that made sense, but that’s Kennedy’s insane life right now.

Kennedy, as the reluctant caretaker of the Rain, has begun putting in place her own rules, breaking from the status quo, much to the dismay of the werewolf and vampire leaders. They were used to submitting a list that they had each vetted, taking money from the folks who wanted to use the hotel (and give a little bit to the Rains), and going about their merry way. Now Kennedy wants to control who comes and goes and that is not going so well. When the werewolves show up with tent camps, knowing she won’t let them in, she tries to go around the list again, sparking even more werewolf drama.

On top of this, she’s got friends who are starting to suspect non-human stuff, she’s got a vampire ally who is being tortured and is need of rescue, and she’s still got some mysterious debt to a very bad fae. There’s probably more (oh, like the witch who killed her parents still out there causing trouble) but Kennedy has a knack for swinging for the fences in the chaos department. It feels like she has no real clear plan but it sort-of ends up working out for her. Also - what is up with Christian? I have so many questions and while this book gives us an ending that blew my mind, it certainly did not come close to answering all my open questions here. There better be more to this story!

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Cold Curses

Cold Curses (Heirs of Chicagoland, #5)Cold Curses by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so incredibly sad that I’ve got to leave this world now. I didn’t realize this was the last book until all the loose ends were tied up! This fantastic world is so fun and filled with interesting characters - I’m left hoping for yet another spinoff.

Elisa and Connor are still a bit of a powerhouse duo. They’re officially engaged and navigating the complicated life of a vampire and a shifter alpha pairing up. Elisa is still actively working on keeping the city safe, but that’s proving particularly hard when demons are essentially taking it over. You’d think after the events of the last book we’d get a break, but news of the demon wards going down appears to have signaled an all clear to any and all demons who want to create mayhem. The larger story here is about a bit of mafia-like demon warring that spills over into the human and other paranormal arenas.

While Elisa is trying to calm down her inner monster about getting it back to the sword, she’s also coordinating ward work with her bff’s parents, calling in cops from the city, supporting Connor in his apex challenges, and trying to figure out the “big bad” who is stirring the pot this time. Oh yeah, and she’s also got to plan a wedding or something. Loves seeing the gang firing on all cylinders here in this last act and particularly seeing Lulu step into her own power. This really did offer a fantastic wrap up and while sad, I’m satisfied where we are leaving things.

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Badge of Honor

Badge of Honor (The Potentate of Atlanta, #6)Badge of Honor by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book shows up a few different ways online. Sometimes it says this is part of the series, sometimes part of the larger epilogue world, but I’d recommend reading this as a very satisfying conclusion to the POA storyline.

Hadley is working on getting the final prep done for her Star Trek themed wedding, while also training for her “final exam” for the POA role she’s essentially been doing this whole time. The vote appears to be in the bag, what with her, ya know, saving the city a whole bunch of times. But there’s a bit of doubt thrown in when a contender is announced with experience being a potentate from another city. While the team (and the city) rally to support Hadley, there’s a lot more at play than just a fair fight.

Midas, of course, has her back 1000%, as does his pack. It was great to see most of the familiar faces resurface to truly put a nice bow around the end of this series. We do finally see a test, the outcome, and even some HEA in Hadley’s future (hopefully). I couldn’t have asked for more in a finale to a great series. This is definitely a must read.

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Shadow Kiss (re-read)

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3)Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adding my re-read notes here:
This book is definitely a turning point in the series. We see Rose, still reeling from the ending of book 2, feeling like an adult but still with training wheels. Lissa is becoming more and more a political figure/pawn in this battle, with less and less insight into Rose’s mental state. Lastly there’s Dimitri, who I didn’t even mention in my few lines review originally (at the bottom). Adrian is really the standout here and thank goodness he gets his own spinoff later.

So - what’s the story? Well, Rose see’s dead people. Or at least 1 dead person. She does the somewhat logical/sane thing and hides this from everyone. While that’s going on, there is the growing darkness Rose is getting from Lissa as she re-embarks on her journey with magic. With her and Adrian working it together often to try to cross train, it starts to add up. Through all this - the “real world” experience part of class is in session. Teachers are fake/real attacking paired up folks and Eddie is really kicking butt, even though he is somewhat reluctantly assigned to Lissa.

The other big thing? Their old nemesis resurfaces with ominous threats and almost blackmail about Rose/Dimitri’s make out session. In my re-read I have to admit that I was way more conflicted about where that all ends up this time around. Maybe it’s the +13 years since my original read through, but it made me feel way more icky. All in all, though, lots happen at the end of this book that begin a whole new journey in book 4.

Original review: Gah! So much happened in this book that I think I need a breather before I start the next one. Ps I love Adrian.

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Sunday, June 2, 2024

The Epilogues: Part III: How to Rattle an Undead Couple

How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #9)How to Rattle an Undead Couple by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We are just blasting through all the important events in Linus and Grier’s new life together. At the end of the previous novella we learned that Grier was unexpectedly pregnant and they didn’t really have time to evaluate what type of powers the kid would get. That’s not their biggest problem, though.

At almost the start of the much awaited baby shower, Linus’s very powerful mother is a no show. There is absolutely nothing short of kidnapping that would keep her from this event, so they all immediately go on high alert. There are hints that our mysterious vampire nemesis might be behind it, but that would be too simple. With all the mysteries going on, it’s no surprise that the reveal caught me off guard. Also, I didn’t expect to have such a “to be continued” ending, but I guess with Grier and Linus there is no such thing as expected endings. I’ll be hopping from this to the novella in the spinoff series.

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The Epilogues: Part II: How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon

How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #8)How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After that very messy and very chaotic wedding, I was excited to see what they had planned as a honeymoon. With Linus planning, it seemed like a safer bet than something Grier chose. No such luck.

They end up in a remote bed and breakfast that comes complete with a haunted history. Seems like something that should be easy enough to navigate, even if the ominous anniversary of demon sightings is rapidly approaching. Things never go easy for these two, though, so even while on their honeymoon, they get sucked into a bit of a murder-mystery, with cats, demons, and things that go bump in the night. Even a simple trip to the library comes with attempts on their lives.

If you’re worried that this will be a road trip story with no other characters we know - don’t worry. Oh, and it has a super fun ending! I’m loving these little shorts to add on to the main story and would happily read even more of them.

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The Epilogues: Part I: How to Kiss an Undead Bride

The Epilogues: How to Kiss an Undead Bride (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy)The Epilogues: How to Kiss an Undead Bride by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really love that we get to revisit with Grier and Linus post-main series big stuff. Don’t worry, there’s still big stuff here! It’s finally wedding time!

After all the potentate training, long engagement, and other craziness, we get to have a wedding! It is (of course) happening at their home and will be filled to the brim with the required society guests and their chosen families. Now that the important food decisions are winding down, of course that’s when the last seed nobody ever wanted to hear from again seems to resurface. There’s terrible clues pointing to someone hell bent on ruining the wedding, even out to get their vendors!

I loved watching the crew dig into the mystery but I definitely didn’t put all the pieces together in time. The wedding ends up being an affair to remember in a pretty terrible way and I was a little let down at the mood killer. It wraps up okay, but you definitely get to feel all the feels in this reveal.

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Pinky Promise

Pinky Promise (The Summoner’s Mark Book 6)Pinky Promise by J. D. Blackrose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series has gotten me completely addicted and no amount of bad decisions by main characters can shake me loose. It might go without saying, but you should start at the beginning here - if you somehow picked this book up first, I don’t know what to tell you.

Becs and her big mouth have committed her to somehow restoring Pinky’s powers, that he expended so completely to rescue… everyone. On top of that commitment, her dream walking friend has just informed her that she’s also got to do the one thing she swore to never do again - visit Faerie. She somehow needs to convince the queen to help them repair the connective tissue between Earth and her world, to save them both. Oh, and Becs gets a dog. That’s important.

Also very important is the bizarre love triangle-ish thing happening between a possibly reformed mobster (who started the whole trip to Pinky losing his powers) and Asher, the ex-angel. I completely thought this book was going to be Asher tripping over himself to become powerful again but instead it really surprised me. No spoilers, but it’s a good ride to get there. I can almost support the rationale - almost! I can’t wait for the next book to see how they get out of this messy not-really-a-true-cliffhanger ending.

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